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Miami and the Siege of Chicago

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  614 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
"I am a Left conservative:" That was Norman Mailer's jaunty but slightly defensive self-description when 1st I met him at the beginning of the '80s. At the time, I was inclined to attribute this glibness to the triumph of middle age & to the compromises perhaps necessary to negotiate the then-new ascendancy of Reagan. But, looking back over this extraordinary journal o ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 3rd 1986 by Plume (first published 1968)
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Maureen
Jun 05, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Oh, yah, baby, Norman Mailer scored a home run. Mailer may have been a misanthropic bastard, but Holy Toledo, the man could write. He was a chronicler, a first-rate observer, and a commentator the likes of which we may never see again. In his coverage of the Miami and Chicago conventions, he kowtowed to no one. Unlike the reporters on the national beat today, who seem to still be reeling from the punishments they received during the Bush administration, Mailer barreled his way though both conven ...more
AC
Feb 21, 2015 AC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1968
I really adored this book. Though more uneven, perhaps, than Armies of the Night, the best sections of this book are unsurpassed. His descriptions of Nixon, McCarthy, the slaughterhouses of Chicago -- some just awesome writing. I'm not always a huge fan of Mailer's work, but this one makes a fabulous addendum to Armies -- and casts a light on the events of 1967-1968 that will have permanent value.
Sara
Sep 13, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why read this now? Why didn't I read it in the 60s? I think because the buzz was that it was as much about Mailer as about the conventions, and that is true. But at this historical distance, it has power, even with its occasionally turgid Faulknerian/Joycean heaps of clauses and sentence fragments. A new kind of journalism it was indeed, and welcome, but embarrassing in parts, especially in Chicago when Mailer begins to dissect his own cowardice that leads him to avoid being in the thick of the ...more
Jason Smith
Jan 10, 2009 Jason Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One can't help but see Miami and the Siege of Chicago as a kind of sequel to Armies of the Night. In both we find Mailer narrating his first person account of these two events, profound moments in our cultural history, from the distance of a self-analytical third person. But here we find not the same Mailer of Armies, that brash, powerful leader—unafraid to face beatings, arrest but in fact seeking them out. No, here we see a writer who avoids the scene of the tragedy. He is disillusioned with t ...more
Amity
Oct 16, 2008 Amity rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. It didn't quite have the vitriol of Thompson when describing Nixon, and it didn't quite capture the terror and excitement of the protests in Grant Park.

While Mailer can paint a beautiful portrait of pomp and circumstance, as well as behind-the-scenes political theatrics at their finest, I didn't completely believe he had a firsthand account of the events that he captured. His third-person narrative and hoaky use of the term "the reporter" stifled and confin
...more
Jon Frankel
May 12, 2016 Jon Frankel rated it it was amazing
As relevant today as the day it was published in 1968, this is a great example of engaged journalism, written with literary style and a novelist's insight into character. Rockefeller, RFK, Eugene McCarthy, McGovern, Humphrey, Nixon, Reagan and Wallace, the whole kit and kaboodle, get the limousine treatment. Mailer writes as if Kerouac had control. Paragraphs a page long yield both the inner distress of a man in his forties who has been to war and been a part of the great rebellion against Ameri ...more
Padraic
Gosh - what a flippin' blowhard! Mailer is like an overly loud uncle who bathes less frequently than you would wish. He's in full plumage here. Interesting note: the Chicago section is far less interesting than the Miami section, with its focus on the rival personalities of Rockefeller and Nixon. I suppose this points the way toward his ultra fictional bios of Oswald etc. One gets the feeling he was a mite too stoned in Chicago to really focus.

Yes I know the man is dead and this was written in t
...more
Neil Baer
Aug 29, 2008 Neil Baer rated it really liked it
The awards and reputation of this book speak for themselves. What really fascinated me, were the descriptions of the protests and battles along Michigan Avenue and Grant Park. I couldn't help but juxtapose Mailer's Chicago with the Chicago of today-it was surreal. I tried to imagine that level of civil unrest today, that level of violence, but I could not.
Alejandro
Aug 19, 2008 Alejandro rated it really liked it
Great start, I vaguely remember the decor of decrepit deco architecture which housed aging gamblers and hookers searching for a thrill. Mix in the infamous Nixon campaign, whoah I was a mere kid when I first heard of the remnants of that ugly patch of history... Creepy feeling as I turn a chapter it feels as if the GOP influencing powers are fresh off of the headlines today.
David
Nov 26, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can get past Mailer's stupefying narcissism, you will find some beefy prose and technicolor imagery in this book. I particularly liked the description of Mayor Richard Daley, "looking like he had just been stuffed with a catfish." The political train wreck that was the Democratic convention in Chicago is mirrored in the psychic pileup that is Mailer.
Erik Graff
Oct 10, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1968 buffs & Mailer fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Although I was a Eugene McCarthy supporter and suspicious of Mailer's favorite, Robert F. Kennedy, I enjoyed reading his account of the 1968 election year and wish I'd read it earlier.
Karlo Mikhail
Oct 01, 2012 Karlo Mikhail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read the late Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the American Political Conventions of 1968 and it’s interesting how nothing much has changed since Mailer wrote his coverage of the events leading to the 1968 U.S. presidential elections.

Composed of coverage of the Republican convention in “Nixon and Miami, August 5-9,” and of the Democratic convention and the street protests around it in “The Siege of Chicago, August 26-29,” Mailer’s reportage provid
...more
Craig Pittman
I picked up this slim paperback while in Miami in July, figuring that at 220 pages it would be a quick and timely read prior to this year's political conventions. I was wrong. The prose in those 220 pages was dense, allusive, repetitive, as hard to get through as a swimming pool full of maple syrup, making it hard to breast-stroke my way through it in six months, frequently putting it aside for a while before coming back to try it again. On the other hand, the contrast and comparisons to today w ...more
Jen Crichton
Jul 08, 2014 Jen Crichton rated it liked it
Brooklyn boy with the Harvard accent, Mailer was a huge public figure in my 60s childhood: egomaniacal, combative and fetishistic about his own belligerence, libertine and anti-feminist, funny and -- yes -- larger than life, relentlessly crafting a public persona of the swaggering Hemingwayesque man of letters. He managed to produce a huge amount of work that rarely/never seemed to reach the level of truly great of which everyone seemed to think he was capable.

I was too young to follow the even
...more
Ted Burke
Mar 27, 2009 Ted Burke rated it it was amazing
We've all heard the remark used too often to describe an egocentric's prerogative to to be self-consumed and reticent to acknowledge the rights and opinions of fellow citizens: " It's his (her)world, we're just living in it..." There are infinite variations and elaborations , all headed for the same punchline no matter the navigation the teller chooses, with hardly an improvement on the insight. The phrase, in fact, is stale and in need of retirement.

The phase had been used recently in a chat I
...more
brian
Sep 24, 2008 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
his book is as lumpy and oversized as his heart and testes and ya just can’t ask for more. i mean, check this description of ‘professional republican’ meade alcorn:

‘Alcorn had a friendly freckled face and sandy hair, black horn-rims, a jaw which could probably crack a lobster claw in one bite, his voice drilled its authority. He was the kind of man who could look you in the eye while turning down your bid for a mortgage.’

hell yeah. i love ol' norm. i love him for his great books (executioner’s
...more
Gurldoggie
Oct 14, 2012 Gurldoggie rated it it was amazing
In 1968 Mailer was sent to cover both parties' conventions for Harper's magazine. At the time, Mailer was stepping away from writing novels to become an enthusiastic writer of the kind of “new journalism” that challenged the status quo by inserting the writer directly into the action. Mailer was in great company. Over the course of his coverage he ran into William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Terry Southern and Allen Ginsberg, all of whom were also writing about the conventions for major media outlets ...more
Justin
Jul 24, 2008 Justin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: political junkies, especially those born after 1968
It was, to say the least, an interesting time to read this book, Mailer's "informal history" of the 1968 conventions as it spanned both 2008 conventions. I don't recall reading Mailer before this (and I think I would remember) and his style took a lot of getting used to, especially the prediliction of referring to himself as "the reporter" and some of the hyper-personalness. But once I could get past that, I was left with something remarkable. The level of detail is fascinating. Befor reading, w ...more
Eric
Aug 24, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
{This review is based on the recent NYRB Classics release of the essays}

In this entertaining but uneven pair of essays, Norman Mailer explores the uneasy mood of 60s American through the prism of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968. Mailer excels when describing the geography and personality of Miami and Chicago - the openings of both essays are tours de force in setting out the personality of the cities with broad strokes with just the right touch of detail.

Mr. Mailer has a soft s
...more
Allen
Dec 04, 2010 Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mailer's first person accounts of the Republican and Democratic Conventions in '68 are fascinating, if a bit hard to follow not knowing the histories of each potential nominee and staffer. It is also a great example of the 'New Journalism' from the 1960s, replete with phrases like "the reporter" standing in for "I," which can be tiresome, but it affords Mailer with a distance that allows him to take a more novelistic approach to the work.

The portrait he gives is one of a divided and confused Ame
...more
Evan Rocher
Aug 09, 2015 Evan Rocher rated it it was amazing
Mailer's prose is the platonic form of new journalism; he's eloquent and clever when describing events and people without even attempting to put on the slightest facade of objectivity. The book isn't terribly good as a factual history of the conventions, but it's a great barometer of their respective moods. Mailer also does a great job of describing his crisis of conscience: he's not terrified of change, youth, and the end of the WASP order like the Republicans at Miami. He isn't one of the pett ...more
Downward
this book feels irrelevant until you're smack in the middle of nixon's speech at the republican convention and suddenly it's relevant again and politics don't change. the republican section is a bit of a bore but worth it for mailer's beautiful prose (mailer, one of the all time greatest talents, often gets caught up in how talented he is and sabotages his own work...no different here...). the chicago section is more compelling simply because more compelling things happened in chicago. it takes ...more
Sheehan
Sep 02, 2008 Sheehan rated it really liked it
I think for someone born after the events took place the history books miss all of the personal (that is so often described as "political" from that era) and focus on the events without giving a taste of the actual experience. Lucky us, Mailer does journalism a great turn by placing himself in the event (in the 3rd person, "the reporter"!) and at the same time giving "the reporters" primero POV...very clever.

If you want to round out the facts from the history books, and put some context to the c
...more
Steve Rosenstein
Sep 08, 2011 Steve Rosenstein rated it really liked it
A terrific example of the best and worst that the New Journalism wrought. A delirious torrent, obnoxiously wordy at times, excessive, often stunning in its language and descriptions, sometimes nothing more than a self-indulgent eyestrain. It's like Mailer read 'Adventures of Augie March' and decided to utilize the technique for political reportage - you wonder if he got paid by the comma. But there is a wild energy here and Mailer's ego, which taints so much of his work, is kept pretty much unde ...more
Tom
Sep 24, 2007 Tom rated it liked it
The year published listed is misleading. The book is older. I am sure political science professors all over the country force their students to buy this every semester. This book was written close enough to the event not to be responsible. But, reading this has reminded me how tired I am of hearing about the era. It is dangerous to say that history loses its relevance. But some of it is a little overblown. I hate to think that years down the road I will come across a 2008 convention memoir with ...more
Skip
Jan 19, 2016 Skip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mailer took me to extraordinary places in this book, places I had been, or experienced or had heard about or imagined: the riots in Chicago, instigated by the police; the slaughterhouses in Chicago, a place I would not want to visit after reading this book about it. The book is incredibly insightful, encompassing a whole host of other insights into the U.S. other writers refused to write about, or even look at, and if they don't look, who else will? Mailer is one of the reasons I see the U.S. as ...more
Ellen
Jul 17, 2016 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Stylistically and syntactically, Mailer's account of political behavior, culminating in two political conventions in 1968, challenges the Reader, who would much have preferred to hear Megyn or Rachel opine mellifluously while safely observing their distorted reflections through a smeared highball glass than struggle through this clotted dramatization of political behavior, distilling an encyclopedic panorama of philosophical positions, policies, and players to an unbearable frisson of compulsive ...more
Kristy Madden
Nov 06, 2016 Kristy Madden rated it it was amazing
I really love this book, mainly because of the great writing one expects from Norman Mailer. He brings you into the heart and tragedy of both '68 conventions so brilliantly that you feel like you've lived it yourself. And what a sordid affair it all was. This book strips away any illusions one might have about clean, decent elections free from ruthless power-grabbing and corruption. In my opinion, it really is a must-read for anyone interested in great writing about American politics.
Leah W
Sep 03, 2008 Leah W rated it really liked it
I decided to read about the 1968 conventions in the midst of the 2008 conventions.

1968 conventions were a lot more interesting, though terribly dispiriting and full of beatings. It was interesting to read about Nixon and not have it filtered back through Watergate. Seems he was a jerk before that, too!

Also, *love* the first few paragraphs in the Chicago section. Mailer can write about a city like nobody else.
Matthew
Nov 23, 2008 Matthew rated it really liked it
Relevant and fast-paced, this ushered in a new area (for better and worse) of campaign essays. After you get past some of Mailer's bluster, his keen eye picks up on some insane events, like the entire late 60s Democratic power base watching a warzone riot from their room windows in the Chicago Hilton, or his suspicion that a recently-elected "aw shucks" governor from the west who everybody laughs off as a joke will be around in a few years to impose a new social order.
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NYRB Classics: Miami and the Siege of Chicago, by Norman Mailer 1 5 Oct 28, 2013 09:08PM  
  • Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and US Political Culture
  • Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America
  • The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents
  • Part of Our Time: Some Ruins & Monuments of the Thirties
  • Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars Of The CIA
  • PR!: A Social History Of Spin
  • Whiteout: The CIA,Drugs and the Press
  • Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon
  • The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990
  • The Stammering Century
  • The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of An American Icon
  • Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
  • Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam
  • Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History
  • The World of Odysseus
  • The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
  • Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller
  • War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
7927
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once.
...more
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